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I don’t know about you, but if I’m booking in for a facial, I expect to see results. I want the therapist to offer something that I can’t do at home, whether that’s using extra-strength products I can’t buy over the counter, gadgets that would be lethal (or at least a bit dangerous) in my hands, or the kind of massage that takes years of training and practice to perfect.
You see, I once went to review a facial at a luxury London hotel where the therapist settled me into the comfy bed, cleansed my face, applied a face mask, left me in the room while I listened to whale sounds, returned, washed off the mask and sent me on my merry way with a slick of sticky lip balm and a wave. Needless to say, I never returned because I can do all that in the comfort of my own bathroom. I vowed after that to choose my treatments wisely. So when I was emailed about a DNA facial, it piqued my interest enough for me to swab my cheek, post my saliva to the other side of the world—an address in Sydney—and then wait six weeks for my appointment with London-based facialist, Kate Kerr. Keep scrolling to find out whether this facial was as life-changing as I hoped it would be.
What Is a DNA Facial?
A facial that targets and treats your complexion based on your DNA, duh. No, but really, Kate Kerr's DNA facial is a first-of-its-kind bespoke facial that is 100% tailored to you and your DNA. Quite literally, no two facials are identical.
Skin DNA, the company Kerr uses to perform her analysis, tests 16 different genetic markers and five different areas of skin aging: firmness/laxity (whether you are breaking down more collagen than you're protecting); wrinkling/glycation (the effect of excess glucose in my bloodstream on my collagen stores); sun damage/pigmentation; antioxidant protection (how effective my body is at producing my own antioxidants); and sensitivity/irritation (how likely I am to have a reaction). By analyzing these markers, Kerr is able to help prevent the way your skin is destined to change as you age while targeting current concerns as well.
All in all, for between $277 and $388 (depending on whether you get your facial from a clinical facialist of Kerr herself), you'll receive the full FutureSkin DNA Programme, which includes a consultation, an analysis of your DNA, a facial using those findings, and a full skincare routine based on them (aka skincare, supplement, facial, and lifestyle recommendations targeted toward your DNA).
Benefits of a DNA Facial
- Fewer breakouts
- Neutralized rosacea
- Faded hyperpigmentation
- Less visible scarring
- More youthful-looking skin
Remember: All these benefits (and more) are the result of genetic testing. To put it in perspective, a publicist for a DNA testing company once told me that if I was a house, the results would show me the blueprint for the house, essentially what the foundations are like. It doesn’t tell me what state the house is in right now or how it will fair in the future. So if I don’t take care of the house, the paint will peel, the walls will crack. If I maintain the house, it can withstand a lot of bad things that are thrown at it, and in a house’s case, that’s turbulent weather, spilled wine. In my skin’s case, that’s a lack of sun protection, too many glasses of wine. Essentially the results are just a guide to your genetics.
It's worth noting, however, that Kerr's website mentions that optimal benefits are best achieved by getting a DNA facial every four to six weeks. Whether or not that's necessary is subjective.
How to Prepare for a DNA Facial
Before the treatment comes the consultation. I arrived at the Phi Clinic on Harley Street not really knowing what to expect. My results had arrived a few weeks before, and Kerr had read over them before I arrived. Funny to think we had never met, yet she knew more about the skin I had lived in for 31 years than I did.
First we sat down to talk through my DNA test results. It was a lot to take in, but luckily Kerr emails all her clients the results afterward (in a handy PDF) so you can peruse them in your own time. In the PDF, Each is broken down in layman’s terms with topical products and supplement recommendations. I was high risk for sun damage/pigmentation, which is no surprise since I’m a redhead. Luckily my body is great at producing antioxidants, although Kerr did warn that I could use up my rich supply if I smoked, drank a lot of alcohol, or sat out in the sun a lot. In all other areas, I gained a medium score.
After going over my genetic markers, Kerr and I talked over my existing skincare routine, with such detail that she was pulling up the ingredient lists of each item on the internet. A lot of the products I was told to ditch immediately, including anything containing oil, and any moisturizers I was slathering on morning and night. “I can see your skin is quite dull, it’s not reflecting the light well, which is surprising since you’re using so much glycolic,” she told me. “But using a moisturizer is flattening the dead cells down and preventing them from sloughing off effectively.”
What to Expect During a DNA Facial
The combination of the DNA results and my current regimen gave Kerr an unrivaled view of what my skin needs. I’m not going to lie, the treatment that followed wasn’t relaxing; forget whale music, we had a great chat instead. I was fully lucid the whole time. There weren’t any hand or scalp massages here. Instead, I was treated to a heavy-duty peel, 20 minutes under a red LED face mask and a good number of extractions.
“Each facial is completely bespoke,” Kerr reminds. “We take into account current skin health and stability, the client’s concerns and goals, as well as the results from the DNA test, which tell us how the client is destined to age…[then] we incorporate different peels, masks, LED light, lymphatic drainage massage, and microneedling used with active serums for a mesotherapy [read: rejuvenating] effect.” As a result, it’s tough to determine a single set of side effects, as it’s different for everyone. “If we perform a peel and the client is happy with a stimulating facial, there could be a bit of tightness and slight sheathing in areas, although unlikely,” Kerr explains, reiterating that it's all based on which treatments are included and what the person’s reactivity is like.
Where some facials call for sun avoidance and a brief pause from strenuous exercise, Kerr's DNA facial simply suggests adhering to the DNA-inspired skincare routine discovered through your personal test. And, considering gorgeous skin is the goal and simple skincare is the at-home method, that's really not so much to ask.
The Final Takeaway
After six weeks of using the products that Kerr told me to, I can honestly say I am hooked. My skin looks the best it has since before puberty. I rarely get spots, my skin tone is more even, less oily, brighter. My fine lines have shrunk. Most incredibly, friends, colleagues, and even my boyfriend comment positively on my skin. I’m averaging about 1–2 positive, out-of-the-blue comments a week. I’ve gone from hiding my hormonal breakouts behind my hair to proudly showing off my complexion. Sometimes I don’t even bother wearing foundation; I don’t really need to. My skin is that good.
If you can’t stretch to the DNA test, but can book in with Kerr for a facial, I would highly recommend it. Until then, check out the products that changed my skin for the better, below.
Up next: Discover the life-changing, celeb-favorite facial that one writer can't get enough of.